This essay has a total of 618 words and 4 pages.


Love and Acceptance

Tillie Olsenís I Stand Here Ironing, and Alice Walkerís Everyday Use, both address the
issue of a motherís guilt over how her children turn out. Both mothers blamed themselves
for their daughterís problems. While I Stand Here Ironing is obviously about the mousy
daughter, in Everyday Use this is camouflaged by the fact most of the action and dialog
involves the mother and older sister Dee. Neither does the mother in Everyday Use say
outright that she feels guilty, but we catch a glimpse of it when Dee is trying very hard
to claim the handmade quilts. The mother says she did something she had never done before,
"hugged Maggie to me," then took the quilts from Dee and gave them to Maggie. In I Stand
Here Ironing the mother tells us she feels guilty for the way her daughter Emily is, for
the things she (the mother) did and did not do. The motherís neighbor even tells her she
should "smile at Emily more when you look at her." Again towards the end of the story
Emilyís mother admits "my wisdom came too late." The mothers unknowingly gave Emily and
Maggie second best.

Both mothers compare their two daughters to each other. In Everyday Use the mother tells
us that "Dee is lighter than Maggie, with nicer hair and a fuller figure." She Fahning
-2-speaks of the fire that burned and scarred Maggie. She tells us how Maggie is not
bright, how she shuffles when she walks. Comparing her with Dee whose feet vwere always
neat-looking, as if God himself had shaped them." We also learn of Deeís "style" and the
way she awes the other girls at school with it.

The mother in I Stand Here Ironing speaks of Susan, "quick and articulate and assured,
everything in appearance and manner Emily was not." Emily "thin and dark and
foreign-looking at a time when every little girl was supposed to look or thought she
should look a chubby blonde replica of Shirley Temple." Like Dee, Emily had a physical
limitation also. Hers was asthma.

Both Emily and Maggie show resentment towards their sisters. The sisters who God rewarded
with good looks and poise. Emilyís mother points out the "poisonous feeling" between the
sisters, feelings she contributed to by her inability to balance the "hurts and needs" of
the two. In Everyday Use we see Maggie "eying her sister with a mixture of envy and awe.
She thinks her sister has held life always in the palm of one hand, that "no" is a word
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